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    Unanswered Questions in the DUI manslaughter hit-and-run death of Mallory Dies

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    1) Beyond Mollie Culver and staff members in Rep. Lois Capps’ D.C. office, who else was involved in the scheme to get Mr. Morua out of jail and into a V.A. funded treatment facility (New Directions in L.A.) in the four days immediately following Mr. Morua’s DUI hit-and-run accident which sent Ms. Dies to the ICU at Cottage Hospital?

    As reported in Part Four of my series, Damage Control, when I contacted officials at New Directions to ask if anyone there was aware of that scheme, Cindy Young, vice president of development and marketing, had this to say:

    “There are many steps that would need to occur before a veteran could be court-ordered to New Directions. For starters, a court process involving a judge, public defender and district attorney would have to occur that would lead to a decision to make an alternative sentencing order for a particular veteran. New Directions has no power to bring a veteran into its program that would somehow sidestep this court process.”

    2) To what degree was Craig Lea, a re-entry specialist at the VA’s Desert Pacific Network in Longbeach, CA involved in the scheme?

    As I reported Ms. Culver had sent the first of two official forms to Mr. Lea in which she had forged Mr. Morua’s signature. That first form VA 10-5345 was an authorization to release Mr. Morua’s medical records to Mrs. Capps’ Santa Barbara office. Ms. Culver also filled out and forged Mr. Morua’s signature on a VA form 10-10 EZ, an application for health benefits which would have sent him to New Directions if approved.

    After sending in the first form on or about December 9th, three days after the crash, Ms. Culver, according to Teresa Montoyawho later married Mr. Morua, met with her in person and urged her to send in the second form to Mr. Lea which Mrs. Morua did. At the time she didn’t know that she might be violating federal law since that form calls for “a fine and/or imprisonment for up to 5 years for concealing a material fact or making a materially false statement.”

    As reported in Part Five of my series Cover Up, I contacted Mr. Lea during the research phase of my series and he agreed to talk with me, but later VA officials refused to make him available. However, on April 4, Mr. Lea paid a visit to Mr. Morua in Santa Barbara County Jail, and according to Mrs. Morua, her husband confirmed for Mr. Lea  that those were not his signatures on the forms that had been sent into the VA. Therefore:

    3) What if anything has the Veterans Administration done to investigate my findings on this scheme to defraud the VA?

    As of this date no one from the VA Inspector General’s Office, the DOJ or the FBI has contacted me to get the originals of the forged documents which Mrs. Morua gave to me. Nor, to my knowledge, has anyone from the VA sought to investigate the evidence of possible fraud by Ms. Culver and others in Mrs. Capps office.

    4) What happened to the investigation of my findings by the FBI and Public Integrity Section (PIN) of  The U.S. Justice Department which was the direct result of a referral by Santa Barbara County D.A. Joyce Dudley to André Birotte, then the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California in Los Angeles?

    In mid-May, according to an email from Ms. Dudley to Matt Dies,the father of the victim, Mr. Birotte sent my five-part series to PIN and on May 27th Marquest J. Meeks, an attorney from Main Justice traveled to the Santa Barbara area to investigate the V.A. allegations.

    As first reported on this website and picked up by The News The Associated Press and The LA Times the federal investigation first involved an interview of Mrs. Morua by Mr. Meeks and two Special Agents from the Bureau’s Santa Maria Resident Agency (RA) Dieter Willcomm and Marni Barton.  That night, after Mr. Meeks had departed for D.C. the two SA’s interviewed Mr. Morua in the presence of his then attorney Darry Genis and  later his mother Rose Saucedo

    All three interview subjects confirmed my findings regarding Ms. Culver’s scheme to get Mr. Morua out of jail and into New Directions, but the probe apparently ended there.

    5) If the FBI and DOJ were interested in confirming my findings of federal crimes, why didn’t they ever ask to interview me or request the original VA forms which are in my possession?

    In the research and reporting of my series I relied on no confidential sources. Since this was a matter of public interest, I sent repeated emails to Mr. Meeks copying SA’s Willkomm and Barton along with senior FBI officials offering to cooperate. But not a single official from the FBI or DOJ followed-up or even asked to examine the two VA forms for Ms. Culver’s fingerprints. Why?

    By September, three months after his trip to Ventura County where he interviewed Mrs. Morua, Mr. Meeks was no longer working at The Public Integrity Section of Main Justice in Washington. Instead had been re-assigned as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Louisiana. On October 6th he made the opening argument in the trial of a traffic court accountant charged with embezzlement. So that apparent change in his status at DOJ leads us to this question:                                                      


    6) Did Marquest Meeks’ investigation of possible forgery and fraud by Mollie Culver, whom I reported was one of 55 membersin the California delegation of the Electoral College voting for Barack Obama in 2012 lead to a demotion? 

    7) Further, did politics play any role in the apparent unwillingness of the Justice Department to pursue charges against Ms. Culver who is also the former political director of The California Democratic Party?

    8) Why did the defense of the civil suit filed by attorney Bob Stoll on behalf of Matt and Raeona Dies shift from Mary Beth Walker, in the U.S. House of Representatives Office of General Counsel to Julie Zatz, an AUSA in André Birotte’s office — the very federal prosecutor’s office which had forwarded my series for investigation to The Public Integrity Section in the first place?

    According to correspondence sent by Ms. Zatz to Mr. Stoll on May 28th (the day after the FBI-DOJ investigation began) she asked that Mrs. Capps’a name be removed from the list of defendants in the wrongful death suit, substituting “The United States of America” as a defendant.

    In Part Five of my series I raised the question of whether Ms. Walker might be guilty of obstruction of justice for sending a letter to Santa Barbara D.A. Joyce Dudley asking to “work with (her) and (her) office and/or investigators to segregate” what Ms. Walker termed “sensitive official information” from Mr. Morua’s office iPhone 4 seized on the night of his arrest.

    If the D.A. or SBPD had acquiesced to Ms. Walker’s request, evidence that might have helped the Dies family’s civil case (or a potential criminal prosecution of Ms. Culver) could have been removed.

    When I asked Mrs. Dudley for her assurance that no one from her office or the Santa Barbara Police Department had complied with Ms. Walker’s request, she replied,  “To my knowledge, the DAs office has not done anything with the cellphone records. I can’t speak to what the SBPD may have done or will do.”

    But when Mr. Genis received a download of data from Mr. Morua’s iPhone 4 and his personal iPhone 3 executed by the SBPD, it appeared that some material had been removed including Mr. Morua’s last text to his then fiancé/now wife Teresa Montoya at 12:06 a.m. just after he’d crashed his Dodge Caliber:

    “Baby I’m Done,” were the words he texted that were received by Ms. Montoya on her iPhone but they were apparently missing from the download of data furnished to Mr. Genis by the SBPD, leading to these questions: 


    9) Was Ms. Walker ever investigated by the Public Integrity Section for her attempt to “segregate” what she termed “sensitive official information” from Mr. Morua’s cell phone? And did her letter to Mrs. Dudley, lead to the defense of the case being handled by Mr. Birotte’s office?

    In mid-September, around the same time that Marquest Meeks left Main Justice, Ms. Walker left the House Office of General Counsel to take a job in the Office of the Solicitor of the U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office. Her departure was marked by a “Tribute” in the Congressional Record by GOP Congressman Darrell E. Issa.

    10) Did Ms. Walker’s departure have anything to do with the way she initially handled the representation of Mrs. Capps and her staff and, was her exit related to the takeover of the defense by AUSA Julie Zatz, the Assistant Chief of the Civil Division in Los Angeles?

    And if, in fact, the Feds have dropped the ball and failed to further pursue an investigation of my findings of VA fraud and possible obstruction of Justice:

    11) Will D.A. Joyce Dudley commence an investigation since forgery and obstruction of justice are also state crimes?

    Mrs. Dudley only made the referral to the Feds after Mr. Dies got more than 1,000 signatures on a petition asking Mrs. Capps to come clean and tell the truth about my findings. The petition also called for the D.A. to call in the DOJ.

    12) Now that Justice has apparently stalled in its probe, will the District Attorney, a close friend and political ally of Lois Capps, move forward?

    13) Will Lois Capps finally tell the full truth about how much awareness her office had of Raymond Morua’s prior criminal record at the time he was brought on board as an intern and later promoted to District Rep? 

    In 2006 Mr. Morua had two prior DUI arrests and a third arrest for a vehicular hit-and-run. In 2010, while working in Mrs. Capps office he was convicted of grand theft embezzlement. He had spoken openly about his problems with alcohol.

    In the hours leading up to his manslaughter hit-and-run in which he struck Mallory Rae Dies at a speed (estimated by an SBPD detective) of 60 m.p.h. he consumed no less than eight drinks, including two bourbons at dinner and six vodkas at the Santa Barbara Independent’s annual Holiday Bash, an invitation-only event at which I proved he was working for Mrs. Capps. See Part Two of the series, Everybody Loved Raymond.

    14) One of the Capps staffers present at the party, whom Mr. Morua texted Ms. Montoya he was with, was Chris Meagher, Mrs. Capps’ press secretary and a former reporter for the Indy. Why couldn’t Mr. Meagher or anyone else at that party who watched Mr. Morua consuming so many drinks, have pulled him aside and asked for his car keys before letting him walk out into the night? 

    Mr. Morua, for his part, took responsibility and pled guilty to his crimes. He’s now serving 20 years to life at Wasco State Prison. Mrs. Capps and Mr. Meagher were quoted by The Independent and as charging that my series was “full of inaccuracies.” But they have refused to cite a single fact or allegation in the 20,500 word series that was incorrect.

    15) When will Lois Capps, who won a 9th term in November, take responsibility for Ms. Culver and the other members of her staff who watched Mr. Morua develop into a ticking time bomb and tell the full truth about this case? 

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